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Achill villagers tormented by sheep damaging property


Anton McNulty

AN Achill resident has said sheep straying from a commonage area are causing havoc for many elderly people, who are being tormented by sheep going onto their property.
Pensioner Kathleen Sweeney from Sraheens, near Achill Sound, told The Mayo News that sheep straying around the village are causing anguish for many older people, who are seeing  their property being damaged by the sheep.
Kathleen, who is in her 80s, said she recently fell when chasing sheep from her property. She believes sheep farmers have to be accountable for their sheep.
“I was so upset. I fell and hurt my side and I sat there and I cried. I said ‘What are we going to do?’,” she recalled.
She explained that the sheep jump the fall in front of her house. Even extra wire fencing has been unable to stop them.
“We had an extension to the fence put up and they just jumped across the extension and the wire again. But we shouldn’t have to be fencing ourselves in. It is a joke. It wouldn’t happen in any other part of the world. There is commonage in other parts of Mayo with sheep but they are not roaming the road and going through villages like they are here.
“Everyone is complaining. I am in my 80s and my neighbour is over 80 as well, and there is just nobody to help us. We feel fenced in on our own property. We have an elderly population here in the village, and we can’t be chasing sheep from our property.”

Daily occurrence
Kathleen said that the sheep coming onto her property has been a daily occurrence for the last month and she cannot bare to think it will continue for the summer.
“Last year was the pits. I remember we came home from Castlebar and they had caused a load of damage with droppings all around the house. I counted 46 sheep – there was probably more, but that is all I counted as they were jumping out. The same thing will happen this year because nothing is being done about it to stop it.”
Kathleen has contacted local gardaí, who informed her they will investigate the situation. Last year, a group of concerned residents in the Upper Achill area, which includes Sraheens, wrote a notice in The Mayo News stating they would ‘no longer tolerate’ having sheep ‘illegally trespassing’ onto property and threatening to take legal action if it continued.
“We wish to give notice that any sheep that are trespassing on private property will be rounded up, tag numbers will be taken, and the relevant authorities will be informed and the sheep will be impounded,” the group wrote.